Life in the shadow of the settlements

Demolitions are a day-today reality for many Bedouin communities living in ‘Area C’, where Israel maintains full civil and military control.

Previously individual homes and buildings such as schools were subject to demolition; now entire villages are threatened with the same fate, including Khan Al Ahmar, Abu Nawwar and Susiya. This places thousands at risk of forcible transfer, moving them to another area against their will, which would constitute a war crime.

Israeli authorities say the demolitions must be carried out because the structures were erected without an Israeli building permit. But, it is virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain such permits. Between 2009 and 2016 Israeli authorities approved less than 3% of Palestinian applications.

With permission to build routinely denied, there is no meaningful development of permanent health infrastructure. There is not a single permanent Palestinian health centre in Area C, whereas Israeli settlers have access to modern hospitals and clinics. This, along with poverty and restrictions to water and livelihoods, dangerously undermines health. Amongst Bedouin children, anaemia and malnutrition are rising rapidly, with 20% of under five year olds now showing symptoms that could have long-term implications, including stunted growth.

The MAP-funded mobile clinic, run in partnership with the Islah Charitable Society, is a vital provider of primary health services, first aid training and maternal health to many Bedouin communities. For over 10 years, our clinic vehicle has driven across the Jordan Valley, making monthly visits to communities and delivering medication to patients situated hours from the nearest hospital or health clinic.

One of the communities served by MAP’s mobile clinic, Khan al Ahmar, is at imminent threat of demolition and forcible transfer. This summer Israeli bulldozers arrived to secure the road, ready for demolition. The mobile clinic treated Bedouin Palestinians injured defending their homes. Without this service, they would have faced lengthy and expensive journeys to hospital to access care. The mobile clinic is currently visiting the community twice a week to provide extra support.

Thanks to the generosity of MAP supporters, we raised £140,000 for a brand new mobile clinic. The van is being renovated to include the amenities of an entire GP clinic and will be ready and on the road in early 2019.

This year, the critical services provided by the mobile health service have been jeopardised by the US administration’s cuts to UNRWA, the UN agency responsible for humanitarian support to Palestinian refugees, which was contributing medicines to the clinic. This has led to a shortfall of £18,550 for medicines needed by the clinic. This winter, with your support, we are urgently raising these funds so we can continue to support Palestinian Bedouin communities to hold on to their health and their way of life in the face of increasing restrictions.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2018 edition of our supporter magazine, Witness.